The African Elephant — A Nation in Peril — Part One

A "Mock" Charge?! Sure Doesn't Feel Like One!

A "Mock" Charge?! Sure Doesn't Feel Like One!

In the late spring of 2004, my brother, myself, and two friends set off on a 4-week photography safari in southern Africa. A gift to me from my bro, bless his soul. As you can imagine, such a trip was a dream come true for someone like me who lives, eats, and breathes animals and practices animal communication. It was the trip of a lifetime and changed mine forever.

There were many surprises along the way, however, the first being the shock of what it feels like to be in a place where humans are waaaaaaaaaaay down on the food chain. THAT took some getting used to and was certainly an humbling realization.

The culmination of the adventure was our last stop, Abu Camp, an elephant-back safari camp where one rode elephants out into the wild each day instead of 4-wheel drive vehicles. I have always been fascinated by elephants, so this was the part of the trip I had been looking forward to the most — the elephant experience.

I was, therefore, understandably confused and dismayed when, upon our very first elephant encounter while driving from the bush plane to our first camp, our first day on African soil, I found myself terrified by a young bull elephant who charged our vehicle. It was a mock charge (I later learned — he was just showing off), but what I picked up intuitively was the energy of the entire breeding herd that we had inadvertently and carelessly driven right through the middle of. NOT something that is recommended! Lucky for us it wasn’t the herd matriarch who charged us!

Elephants in the wild in Africa generally do not like “man” because of the decades of culling them and killing them and kidnapping their babies. They are very smart animals, and their family structure is key to every aspect of their culture and survival. What we have done to them has ruptured their existence to the extent that The New York Times actually published a special section a few years ago about this very phenomenon, called “Are We Driving the Elephants Crazy?” The answer, unfortunately, is yes.  So, to put it simply, the elephants have it in for us.

My second day in Africa, on an after-dark “night drive,” we again inadvertently drove through a breeding herd. And this time a big female did take out after us and chased us as far as she could. “Terrified” does not begin to describe my feelings that night. While some in the Jeep were laughing hysterically, I really “got” this old girl’s message. If we had not been able to outrun her, she would have smashed our vehicle and killed whomever she could have. It happens all the time in Africa, elephants killing humans; you just don’t hear much about it.

So, after my first 48 hours in Africa, I was TERRIFIED of elephants in the wild!

…….. to be continued


2 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    petchatter said,

    I had no idea, that’s just terribly sad. Were you able to communicate with the female or was she too enraged?

    Lovely picture of Benny. Was he your mount? Looking forward to the next installment.

    Debbra in PA

    • 2

      Hello Petchatter! No, I did not try to communicate with the raging female. I was face forward, like everybody else in the Jeep, willing it not to get stuck in the deep sand of the terrain we were traversing. But your question gives me a good idea for a future blog, so thanks! Leta

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